Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Voter turnout strong in Iron County


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Iron County — Voter turnout was higher than usual despite the uncertainty of election day postponement and the coronavirus pandemic fears, according to three Iron County municipalities.

A Wisconsin Supreme Court order pertaining to the election during the coronavirus pandemic requires that municipalities not start counting ballots until 4 p.m. on April 13. The results will be made public that day.

“We do not have the exact numbers yet, but there were around 556 total voters between absentee and walk-ins,” said Kathy Osterman, an administrative assistant with the city of Hurley. That is around a 65% turnout of eligible voters, she said.

“That is higher than normal,” Osterman said. “For this same election four years ago we had 58%.”

There were some new voters who came in and registered, she said. Around 430 absentee ballots of the 443 sent out have been returned, she said.

In nearby Montreal there was a 68% or 69% turnout, said Susan Lesky, city clerk. The total voting count was around 336, she said.

“I did check and we were at 63% for the last presidential primary in 2016,” Lesky said.

There were 244 absentee ballots sent out and as of Tuesday, 239 were already returned, she said. The five ballots outstanding include military personnel overseas which may still be returned with a valid postmark, she said.

There was a full crew of poll workers for the Montreal in-person voting on Tuesday, Lesky said. The voters were patient with all of the coronavirus safety features to include social distancing, sanitizer, plexiglass and mask protection for the registration area, she said.

“Most all of the people came very understanding and listened to the instructions,” Lesky said. “We were happy with that.”

As of 8 p.m. Tuesday there were 636 ballots processed, both absentee and in-person ballots at the Mercer Community Center on Tuesday, said Debbie Hohner, town clerk. There were 572 absentee ballots sent out and all but 58 were returned, she said.

More ballots might come in with the postmark of Tuesday or before, she said. Others may not be returned for not being completed and sent or if the voter had problems and didn’t follow the directions on the envelope, she said.

“We have not processed all of our absentee ballots yet,” Hohner said. “We will be finished processing absentee ballots that we receive with the proper postmark on Monday at 4 p.m., and then we will start the process of counting the votes.”

There 1,202 eligible voters in Mercer, Hohner said. This 636 votes counted so far would put the turnout so far at around 53%.

“We still have some absentee ballots to go through the machines, including some absentee ballots that were not signed on the outside of the envelopes and some that have not been returned yet,” Hohner said.

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